Prague, Czech Republic
Your Eminence, beloved Concelebrant and Brother in the Risen Lord:
It is with great joy that we have concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the beginning of my first visit to the Holy Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The common faith of our two Sister Churches has been celebrated and strengthened by this concelebration of the Holy Mysteries and through our sharing in the One Bread and One Cup, the Precious and Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This Divine Liturgy has not only been a celebration of our common faith, but also of the love that is ours in Jesus Christ. It is this essential bond of love that unites our churches, which guides us in our common ministry to build up the body of Christ, not for our own sake, but for the sake of the life-giving Gospel. And it is this essential bond of love that our time together will reveal as we share in worship and fellowship during the days to come.
We have gathered today in this venerable cathedral that has been designated as a memorial to those who suffered as a result of the Nazi terror of 1942. The respect for the memories and legacy of those who perished in this persecution is honored within these walls and prayerfully remembered during all of the Divine Services celebrated here. We are grateful to God that such modern day witnesses to the faith are still remembered and continue to inspire us in our own days.
This cathedral is also a place of forgiveness and reconciliation. For nothing so greatly honors the memories of those who suffered and who perished as the result of the Nazi terror of six decades ago as our attempts today to bring forgiveness and reconciliation—that forgiveness and reconciliation which is possible because of Christ’s own suffering of the Cross and His victory over death in the glory of His Resurrection.
Having concelebrated this Divine Liturgy, I now look forward to the days ahead. May our visit together further encourage and inspire us, our common ministry, and our faithful flocks! May the bond of love which unites us be strengthened! And may the joy of our meeting fill us with zeal for the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, that in all things God may be glorified!